Finding the Precision Payback No Matter How Small the Farm

A modest investment in GPS and auto-steer technology can bring a substantial return on investment for smaller no-till operations, says a precision farming specialist.

The decision to spend several thousand dollars on cutting-edge precision farming technology is a calculated one for any no-tiller. But for the small-acre operator, getting a return on investment is especially critical to justify the expense.

With lower commodity prices and more affordable precision systems, these farmers are looking for any advantage they can to save money on input costs or labor, says PJ McCullough, precision farming specialist with McCullough Implement in Watseka, Ill.

“For those no-tillers farming a few hundred acres, or even the weekend warriors, it may take a couple of years to realize the financial payback from a precision system,” McCullough says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.”

Stress Reliever.

During the last several years, McCullough says he’s seen an increase in the 400-600-acre customers who are incorporating auto-steer and GPS systems into their operations.

One reason is because even on smaller farms, no-tillers are seeing the value in not having to concentrate on keeping their tractor, planter or combine driving in a straight line.

This is something McCullough has seen first-hand on his family’s own small no-till operation. He farms 180 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat with his father, Patrick, near Watseka.

Several years ago, they purchased an Outback S-Lite GPS guidance system for their older Allis Chalmers 85-horsepower tractor for planting and spraying.

“For smaller-scale no-tillers, we don’t have to break the bank to realize a substantial return on a GPS system…”

“The biggest advantage we have is spraying our no-till fields,” McCullough…

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Jack Zemlicka

Jack Zemlicka was the Technology Editor for No-Till Farmer. His coverage included precision farming practices, products and trends, which can improve efficiency and productivity for no-till farmers.

He joined Lessiter Publications Ag Division in 2012 and also served as managing editor of Strip-Till Farmer.

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